Loci praecipui theologici

Volume 1 of a new edition of the Loci praecipui theologici nunc denuo cura et diligentia Summa recogniti multisque in locis copiose illustrati 1559, by Philipp Melanchthon has recently been published by EVA of Leipzig.

Philipp Melanchthons »Loci praecipui theologici« in der Letztfassung von 1559 sind die reife Summe ­seines theologischen Schaffens. Gemeinsam mit der »Institutio« Johannes Calvins sind sie die wirkmächtigste reformatorische Dogmatik. Sie liegen nun erstmals ins Deutsche übersetzt in einer lateinisch-deutschen Ausgabe im ersten Teilband vor.

Die philologische Seite der Übersetzung lag bei dem Basler Altphilologen Peter Litwan unter Assistenz der Altphilologin Florence Becher-Häusermann. Die theologische Redaktion hatte Sven Grosse, Professor für Historische und Systematische Theologie an der Staatsunabhängigen Theologischen Hochschule Basel. Die Ausgabe ist auf zwei Bände angelegt.

Der 2. Band der Loci erscheint im Juli 2020.

The publisher has sent along a copy for review.   The lovely volume commences with a foreword that nicely describes the importance of Melanchthon for the entire Lutheran reformation and the key place the Loci (in their various incarnations) played in it.  Then, very briefly, a few of the more important editions and translations of the Loci are listed, along with other key texts (including Calvin’s Institutes and a number of works by Zwingli!).

The next segment of the book at hand is a ‘philological foreword’ wherein editions of the Loci which serve as the textual base of this book are fully discussed.  These include the Leipzig edition of 1559, and an edition (in Latin) published in England.  Next, Melanchthon’s wonderful literary style is the topic and finally the modern German translation is described.

Then commences the volume proper (and the second is promised in the Summer of 2020).  On the left side stands the Latin text and on the right, the modern German.  Line numbering is provided (in increments of 5’s) and on the Latin page the pagination of the original editions consulted, along with other relevant footnotes when necessary.

In terms of contents, it extends from the preface through the Loci concerning God, the Trinity, The Son, the Spirit, Creation, Sin, Free Will, the Divine Law, the decalogue, The Second Table of the Law, Natural Law, The Uses of the Law, Legal Precepts, The Gospel, Grace and Justification, The Old and New Testaments, and finally the indices.  The second promised volume will contain the Loci on the Church, The Sacraments, Penance, Predestination, The Reign of Christ, The resurrection, The Cross, Prayer, The Magistrate, Human Ceremonies, The Mortification of the Flesh, Scandals, and finally, On Christian Freedom.

The font is beautiful.  Here’s a sample:


Concerning the textual basis for this edition, it can hardly be criticized since it is the earliest and best edition of the Loci of 1559.  And the modern German rendering is both scientifically accurate and artistically beautiful.  Here, again, is a photo illustrating this fact:


This is a really special volume, providing, as it does, the interested reader with the Primary Source of Melanchthon’s most mature theological reflections on every important Christian doctrine along with a fantastic German rendition.  No one interested in the Lutheran branch of the Reformation, Systematic theology, historical theology, or Melanchthon studies can afford to ignore it.